Like many people these days, the small island country of Iceland had been on my list of places to visit for quite some time. Actually, I remember distinctly the first time it made its way on to my radar – I was in my first year of university in England and we were taking advantage of the fact that we were living in Europe to travel to a new country a few times a month. My little group of friends didn’t make it that year, but it was forever marked on my list of “must-see” locations ever since. And a must-see country it is! It is equally barren and alive, and just as magical as everyone makes it out to be.
I eventually made it to Iceland on a work trip, traveling with the Nobis team to model for their Fall/Winter 2017 campaign, in September. The weather was as you’d expect it to be – cool, wet, with sun and rainbows shining through multiple times throughout the day. As I understand it, the key to packing, basically at any time of the year, is layers. Nobis is a high quality outerwear company with the most gorgeous designs and fit, so I was well equipped. Something else to prepare you for is, it is an expensive place to be. Items both big (accommodations, guided tours) and small (groceries and transportation) are significantly and consistently more expensive than most countries. I tend to have expensive taste, but this is one of those places where even the more frugal traveler will find it hard to cut down totally on costs (we literally bought a bag of peanuts, some apples, some crackers, bottles of water and granola bars at a grocery store and it cost the equivalent of almost $150 US.) That said – it’s all worth it. If you visit, it is almost guaranteed to be a memorable trip, with some of the stunning landscapes seared in your memory for life.
Where we stayed: Skuggi Hotel. Boutique, trendy hotel with no fancy amenities but really good breakfast as part of the stay in the lobby bar. Also, a good location and right next to the main strip full of coffee spots, shops and restaurants.
Favourite spots in Reykavik: Sushi Samba (eclectic Japan meets Hawaii meets Iceland vibe, friendly staff and fresh sushi) ; Joe and the Juice (a scandinavian chain with freshly made juices and shakes, tasty and healthy sandwiches, good espresso, and a fun atmosphere) ; Concept Store (an interestingly curated store with both items made Concept themselves and acquired from other brands, really good for gifts or souvenirs and especially targeting the passionate traveler) ; Sandholt (high end bakery and coffee shop, with especially pretty truffles and perfectly created desserts) ; Dons donuts (a food truck that travels around the city depending on what’s going on at the time, melt in your mouth mini donuts) ; Ban Thai (if you’re craving Thai while in Reykjavik, this is the one to hit, a traditional Thai restaurant a short walk away from the main strip).
While you can spend a day or two exploring the city, the true strength and appeal of Iceland is their open land and natural wonders. Some must do items include:
Exploring the glaciers. A guided tour (in a monster truck!!!) is a must. I recommend Always Iceland.
Hot springs. If you are in Iceland for a lengthy amount of time, then hit up the Blue Lagoon (the touristy spa) in addition to a more authentic feeling spot, but if you are strapped for time, prioritize finding a local to bring you to one of the more secluded hot springs – as in, one which is not built up with structures, but simply, a small body of water in the heart of the Icelandic valleys. EPIC experience. (Standing on top of a glacier, surrounded by more glaciers, is also an EPIC experience by the way).
Fly fishing. You’re limited in when the bite is on and outfitters operate, so if you want to get into some fishing, plan your trip sometime between June and end of August. And remember, Iceland waters are all privately owned, so if you want to get some fishing in, you must book with an outfitter. Check out Lax-A for a variety of trip options.